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Burlingame going for school tax
July 29, 2011, 03:34 AM By Heather Murtagh Daily Journal Staff

A $76 annual parcel tax could mean about $2.35 million over four years for Burlingame schools — an ongoing stream of cash voters will decide upon in November.

On Thursday morning, the Board of Trustees approved 4-0-1, with Trustee Liz Gindraux absent, to put a $76 annual tax for four years on the November ballot, which would create about $589,000 yearly for the district, according to a staff report by Chief Business Official Robert Clark. Such a measure requires two-thirds support to pass.

While the district had considered such a measure for months, a push came after the spring when the district faced about $1 million in cuts. The community responded with the Game On! Campaign — a fundraising effort that raised about $500,000 to maintain services.

"It was clear from the community that this was a one-time, one-shot deal,” said Clark.

The parcel tax would offer an opportunity to raise about the same amount of funds throughout this economic downturn, he added.

Trustee Greg Land was happy the measure was asking for a conservative amount. Earlier conversations discussed asking for up to $96 annually for eight years.

As proposed, the tax would run from 2012 through 2016. It would be used to maintain programs and employees while restoring funding for books and supplies, according to the resolution before the board.

Before putting a measure on the ballot, the district surveyed the community with the help of Godbe Research. Godbe conducted 400 phone interviews from May 31 through June 7.

An $85 annual measure generated 70 percent support, which increased as the annual amount went down. Asking for $58, for example, resulted in 75 percent support. Those polled were also questioned about duration, with 67 percent supporting eight years and 73 percent supporting four years.

Voters were more likely to support a measure if it maintained hands-on science classes and labs; maintained math and science programs; attracted and retained teachers; prevented teacher layoffs; maintained smaller class sizes along with art and music programs; and restored funding for books and supplies, according to the survey.

Ultimately, Godbe Research suggested a measure not more than $67 per year for four years.

Burlingame voters have been supportive of ballot measures in recent years.

In 2010, voters approved Measure B, a $180 annual parcel tax for 10 years. The measure combined two previously approved parcel taxes totaling the same amount, both of which ended this year. It generates about $1.4 million for the district annually.

 

Heather Murtagh can be reached by email: heather@smdailyjournal.com or by phone: (650) 344-5200 ext. 105.


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